When Times Leader reader Patty Searfoss brought me some recipes last week, I simply thought they sounded delicious.
I had no idea “Italian Chicken With Mushrooms” was going to divide the newsroom taste testers into mushroom-loving “fun guys” and members of the opposing camp, who seem to think mushrooms are just something to kick out of your backyard if they sprout on a wet day.
OK, I’ll admit it wasn’t quite that dramatic. It’s not as if the tasters lined up on opposing sides of the room and hurled insults.
It was more dignified and restrained, with thoughtful comments.
I’ll start with the fans:
“I love the mushrooms,” Times Leader controller Marc Couchot said after trying a sample. “I really think they make the dish.”
“This was very good,” said news editor Roger DuPuis. “I loved the savory mushroom sauce; it was so rich and delicious.”
Then we had columnist Bill O’Boyle who told me in advance he wasn’t a mushroom fan and was happy to hear that a mushroom-free sample could be arranged.
He also wanted to know why the dish is called “Italian,” and I explained it has Italian seasonings.
“I wouldn’t say it tastes Italian. It’s almost French because it’s so creamy,” Bill said after tasting his mushroom-free sample.
“Nice choice of pasta,” he added. “Good job.”
When page designer Lyndsay Bartos admitted mushrooms “don’t do anything for me,” I gave her a serving with only one piece of mushroom amid the chicken, pasta and sauce.
“I really enjoyed it,” she said. “And I think my family would enjoy that for a meal.”
By the way, she added, “I ate the one mushroom and it didn’t harm me.”
Obituary clerk Ashley Bringmann said she’s “in the middle about mushrooms, on the fence, it depends on the way they’re cooked.”
On tasting day, she discovered she does like baby bellas cooked this way, which is in a slow cooker with chicken, cream of chicken soup, cream cheese and Italian seasonings.
Reporter Kevin Carroll didn’t tell me in advance that he had grown up not liking this contentious white veggie, and I gave him a sample with at least four thin slices of ‘shrooms.
“I’m kind of eating around the mushrooms,” he admitted, adding he “liked the chicken and the sauce; it’s all really savory.”
Meanwhile, out of the office, my husband Mark and my mom joined me in REALLY LIKING THIS, especially with the mushrooms. So thank you, Mrs. Searfoss!
(Patty Searfoss did tell me she uses fresh mushrooms rather than canned, and that’s what I used as well in this very simple dish.)
Italian Chicken With Mushrooms
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
1/4 cup water
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheeese, softened
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of chicken soup, condensed
1 can (4 ounces) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
Place chicken in greased 3.5 to 5-quart slow cooker. Combine salad dressing mix and water, pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high heat 3 hours. In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and soup until blended. Stir in mushrooms. Pour over chicken. Cook 2 hours longer on high heat or until chicken juices run clear. Makes 4 servings.
Serve over hot noodles. Accompany with a spinach salad.